5 Creative Tips for Making Awesome Photo Collages


If you came of age in the eighties or nineties, you probably remember making collages with magazine cutouts, glue, and some poster board. Well, you’ve come a long way, baby—and so have collages.

In today’s digital world, collages are a powerful visual communications tool for marketers, an accessible art practice, and an excellent way to level up your social posts, Facebook covers, and online ads.

The best part? You don’t need experience in graphic design or photography to make an exceptional collage. With a tool like PicMonkey, which Shutterstock recently acquired, you can make professional-looking collages in no time.

To get started, consider these five essential tips to making a collage stand out.

1. Choose a Collage Aesthetic

Deciding on your aesthetic upfront will help you determine how to go about designing your collage. If you’re after a retro or nostalgic feel, for instance, you might opt for a film-strip style collage or a Polaroid-inspired collection.

Black and white photo collageCustomize this PicMonkey template to your liking.

Tip: One no-brainer way to create a film-strip collage is to use a film-strip template on PicMonkey (go to Create new > Templates). Just replace the images, customize to your liking, and that’s a wrap.

Or, start with a blank canvas (Create new > Blank canvas), add photo frame graphics, and drop your photos into the white spaces.

Of course, there are plenty of other aesthetics to consider in this brainstorm phase (surrealist, mixed media, sliced)—and loads of inspiration to pull from on PicMonkey and beyond.

As you’re deciding on your aesthetic, consider both what you like and what will resonate most on the platform you’re posting.

2. Decide on a Collage Layout: Grid vs. Scrapbook

There are two main ways to arrange your collage—as a grid or as a scrapbook. A grid layout offers a clean, organized look, while a scrapbook layout creates a more stylized, DIY feel.

Collage grid with 4 photosThere are countless ways to design your grid. Have fun experimenting.

PicMonkey makes designing your grid exceptionally easy. Just go to Create new > Collage, and select from dozens of layouts, all of which are customizable.

Screenshot of editing tools in PicMonkeyPopulate your grid with assets from Shutterstock, or upload your own.

As you’re tinkering with your design, consider how much space you want to keep between your images. Do you want your gridlines to be thick or thin—or gone altogether, to create a more seamless feel?

Play around with the width of your gridlines in PicMonkey by sliding the Spacing bar available in the left-hand menu. You’ll find that sometimes space can unify, rather than distract—and vise versa.

If you go the scrapbook route, PicMonkey makes that design process super easy as well. Open a blank canvas, add your photos, and use the rotate buttons to turn some of your images askew. Pop in personal flourishes like Washi tape, masking tape, and crinkled paper graphics.

Photo collage scrapbook layoutScrapbook layouts add some movement to a static layout.

3. Use an Effects Filter to Unify Your Collage Images

When you make a collage with photos from different occasions, the variation in lighting or color from picture to picture can sometimes be distracting.

An easy way to unify the photos in your collage is to use the Effects tool in PicMonkey, which operates much like any filter you’ve used before. (If you’ve uploaded to Instagram or Facebook—like, ever—you’ll know what we’re talking about.)

Screenshot of how to apply effects in PicMonkey editorApplying the Tuscon effect helps even out the tone of these otherwise varied photos.

4. Include Text in Your Collage

Rather than populate every frame of your grid with an image, set one (or more) tile aside for a text block.

Example of a collage with textAdding text to a collage is an easy way to build an ad or create a digital greeting card.

To add text to a collage in PicMonkey, simply select the tile you’re looking to populate, click the Text button in the upper-left-hand menu, and choose from a list of beautiful fonts.

Screenshot of how to add text in PicMonkey editorKeep in mind that you can lay text over images, as well.

You can adjust color, size, and letter spacing, and add effects such as a drop shadow. You can also change the background color.

5. Incorporate Video into Your Collage

Mixing video in with static elements makes for eye-catching and informative content, and it’s a surefire way to elevate the look of your design.

To add video to a collage using PicMonkey, simply go to Create new > Collage, and click Photos & Video in the upper-left. To add your own video, click the blue Add photo or video button and select from your files.

Or, to choose from the best stock library in the world—a.k.a. the Shutterstock library—click in the Search box and enter relevant search terms.

When you’re happy with your new video collage, hit the download button at the top of the screen. If there’s a video in your collage, the design should already be set to download an MP4 video.

For more detailed info on making a video collage, check out this article.

Now, go! Have fun!

Cover image via Bibadash and Angel.O.